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‘I wonder if you’ll have a grandchild when you get this letter?’  These are the words written by a woman 10 years ago, before she lost her life in the March 2011 tsunami. Her mother and father were shocked to find the letter containing them arrive in the mail this January. While there was no Hollywood movie ending where their beloved daughter turned up alive and well, the letter has at least given them a chance to hear some of the things she never had the chance to tell them in life.

One of the many people to go missing in the 2011 Tohoko Disaster was a woman of 26 who was employed as a temp worker in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture. She had graduated high school in 2003 and started working as a bus guide for a bus company in Kyoto, but had then returned to her hometown of Otsuchi at her parents’ urging. When the tsunami struck she was in the town hall, and it’s thought she was swallowed by the water along with her coworkers. Her house escaped damage and her parents were unhurt, but she was never found. After half a year her parents regretfully submitted notification of her death.

Her father (59) and mother (51) have been stricken with grief, as they were the ones who had wanted her to return home. They have spent each painful day since the disaster regretting ever asking her to move back to the town.

However, when her father returned home from work on January 12 this year, he found a white envelope waiting in the post box. He recognized his daughter’s familiar, neat handwriting, and opened it filled with hope that she could be alive somewhere.

Unfortunately this was not the case, but what he did find was a link with the daughter he had lost. Inside the envelope were two pieces of writing paper, filled with her thoughts and feelings about the day she had left home for work and the day she started her job as a bus guide, as well as musings about where she might be 10 years from then.

She had written the letter when visiting the Meiji-mura museum in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, and used their service where they hold onto your letter and deliver it 10 years later. Written on January 10 2004, it had arrived as scheduled in 2014.

Just before the disaster, she had gotten engaged to a classmate from her middle school who she’d been with for eight years. In the letter she had written ‘I think I might be married and have kids, but what if I’m all alone.’ Reading this her mother murmured, ‘Who’d have thought she wouldn’t even be here in 10 years’. It’s a painful reminder of just how fragile life is, and how we never know when everything might be snatched away from us.

The unexpected arrival was a shock to her parents who were still in mourning. They’d had no idea about the letter, and they also hadn’t know about some of the feelings their daughter expressed in it. One line that stood out is where she tells her parents, ‘Mum and Dad you’ve done so much for me, so I want to return the favour to you from now on.’

Her parents will keep on living knowing how much their daughter cared for them, and treasuring this memory of her that arrived three years after they lost her.

Stories like this really bring home the painful individual losses that are often lost in the statistics of a huge disaster. If you’ve read this, go and tell someone you love how much they mean to you.

Source: Livedoor News
Image: Wikimedia Commons